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Posts Tagged ‘session players’

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Featured Artist: Dimple Sharma

Monday, February 14th, 2011

With an upbringing that included classical Indian poetry and Eastern mysticism, it’s no surprise that Dimple Sharma’s music is infused with the sounds of music heard on the other side of the globe. Born in India, her parents passed on their love of the local culture. “My father’s side in India descended from a long line of meditators,” she says. “Thus, the mysticism of the East was ever present in my upbringing.”

Sharma has since moved to Toronto, Canada, but the Eastern inspirations of her childhood remain in her music. Combining a love of singing and writing songs with her seven years of experience studying ancient esoteric texts, she managed to develop a unique style that’s as much spiritual as it is musical. “The music became a mix of my east Indian origins and western sounds akin to Delerium or Tangerine Dream,” she says, referring to her use of instruments such as sitar and tabala on many of her songs. “The lyrics were written for the urban monk–the individual adapting to the ever-changing, modern paradigm, yet still upholding traditional values and principles.”

When she was having trouble finding reliable musicians to record her projects, Sharma turned to Studio Pros to get Los Angeles session players to quickly record professional tracks for her songs. “I had read positive things about Studio Pros in music magazines years back, and I decided to contact them,” she remembers. “In the past, it was not easy to find musicians that had the technical expertise in addition to a high level of professionalism and ability to follow through on a timely basis.”

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Featured Artist: EDGE

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

EDGE is a Studio Pros artist with a very unique sound. “My musical style is a mix of all the influences I had from my work and personal life,” says the French-born musician. “It’s also a mix of all the different periods I went through with music styles.” Some of these musical phases included The Beatles, Erasure and The Cure. He’s also been influenced by Brit pop like Pulp and the Manic Street Preachers, French music and American bands like Smashing Pumpkins and System of a Down. The result is a sound that touches on each of his international inspirations and keeps the listener wondering what to expect from the next song.

Currently residing in Switzerland (after some time living in London and Madrid), EDGE came to Studio Pros after several disappointing experiences working with various sound engineers. “I was looking for people who could understand what I wanted to reach in terms of production,” he explains. “I found Studio Pros on the web and listened to the previews on the website. I found them just amazing, and decided to try.”

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Preparing the Perfect Pre-production Files for Studio Pros

Friday, January 14th, 2011

So, you’ve decided to start your first project with Studio Pros. Great! You’ll notice that the first step after placing your order is the upload page. This is where you get to upload a scratch version of your song for our musicians to work from, plus any other files you might want to include. Here are some important things to keep in mind to help you prepare to make your Studio Pros project go smoothly.

Record to a Click Track

One of the most helpful things to provide our studio musicians is a song recorded to a click track. The click track is like a metronome; it keeps the beat steady and even. Recording to a click allows our players to know exactly where they are in the song while recording their parts. If you’ve never recorded to a click before, you might try using an online metronome to determine your song’s tempo. Then, download a free audio recording program such as Audacity and set up a click track. Record to the click, then upload your rough recording to our website.

Take note of the tempo (measured in “beats per minute,” or BPM) so you can tell the Studio Pros musicians what they’re recording over. This will help to ensure that our session players are laying down the right parts for your song.

Upload a Text File With Instructions

Although you get a chance to write some instructions during the ordering process, you may want to get into more detail for your song (or you may have forgotten something when you first ordered). Write instructions for your song in a text file, and be as detailed as you’d like. The more direction you can give the musicians, the better. Save your directions to a convenient file format—TXT, RTF, and DOC are usually good choices—and upload them at the same time as you upload your scratch recording to make sure our players don’t start recording before you tell them everything they need to know!

Use Reference Tracks

Reference tracks help our players understand the musical context of your song. Because music can be described in vague and subjective language, having solid examples of what you’re looking for can help immensely. See our post on reference tracks for more information on this.

Include Chords and Song Structure If You Can

Whenever possible, it’s good to provide the musicians with the chord progression and the structure of your song. For example, you could write:

INTRO (4 bars)

[Em ] [Am ] [Em ] [G Am]

VERSE (8 bars)

[Em ] [Em ] [Am ] [Am ] (x2)

This, along with the click track and instructions, will help make sure our musicians know the correct structure for your song.

When you’re recording a project with Studio Pros, the more you information you can provide our musicians with before you start, the easier it will be to get the song you’ve envisioned to become a reality!

Featured Artist: Kevin Tye

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Kevin Tye had never made a professional product with his music.  With the help of Studio Pros, he’s now taken his passion to the next level.

Kevin Tye has quite a bit of musical experience–he played in local bands for almost a quarter century. Eventually he moved on to writing his own material, taking advantage of the fact that he could set up a home studio very easily with today’s computer recording options. These days, he writes and records songs in his spare time when he’s not a this full-time job as a teacher. “I do it as a passion,” he says. “I just like to create things.” But until recently, he had never attempted to make a fully professional recording of his music.

Tye writes in multiple styles and genres, but as of late he has been focusing his creative efforts mainly on writing country songs. He saw an ad for Studio Pros in a magazine. “I decided I would give it a try,” he remembers, “to see what one of my songs would sound like through a professional studio.”

“I was a bit unsure exactly how it was all gonna play out,” he admits. But Tye’s confidence grew with each step of the recording process with Studio Pros; it started with a song sketch and built from there, while he gave his input on each of the tracks as he heard them. He was particularly interested in hearing the musical direction his songs would take by letting Studio Pros’ session musicians make their own decisions. “I wanted to see what the choices would be for people who are doing this thing day in and day out,” he explains. Then, giving more of his own feedback as the process went on, Tye struck a balance that he felt optimized his songs. “In the end I think it was a good mix of musical choices. For example, the singer did some slightly different things in the vocal than I had done, which I ended up liking quite a bit. So it was kind of that process where I was just feeling it out at first, then giving more input at the very end stages.”

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Guitar Solos: How to Record a Great One

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Sometimes an awesome guitar solo can add a new level of energy and fun to a song. In some cases, particularly in songs from guitar-focused bands like The Black Crowes and Van Halen, the guitar solo can be the defining moment of a song. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a bad solo can really bring a song down with it. Imagine that just when you are really getting into a song, suddenly a lame solo completely takes you out of it–and once you’re gone, the song may never recover.

It’s important, then, to be sure you’re laying down a sweet solo whenever you record your song–a solo that will enhance it and not hinder it. Here are some tips for recording the ultimate guitar solo!

To improvise or not to improvise?

Even before you go to record your guitar solo, you have some decisions to make. Do you want to sit down and write a solo beforehand or are you planning on improvising one on the spot? Unless you’re a seasoned improviser and you’re playing music that typically involves heavy ad-libbing (like jam band music or jazz), I would recommend at least outlining a sketch of your solo beforehand. You don’t have to plan it lick-for-lick, but it’s a good idea to come up with some basic guidelines: how long you’ll play in one position before shifting up an octave, what bar you want to play a cool arpeggio over, where you’re going to fit in that really catchy lick you came up with, etc.

When I was recording the solo to a song that had a particularly complicated chord progression, I knew I needed to work out what I would play ahead of time, because I probably wouldn’t improvise anything memorable on the spot. I was really glad that I did–the solo that I ended up writing was much more thoughtful and interesting than what I would have made up, and it became a signature musical moment for my band.

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Working with Online Session Musicians

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

At Studio Pros, we give you the best tools possible to record a hit song. When I say that, I mean that these session players, engineers and producers have major label credits with famous artists. In fact, we don’t accept any musician to work for us who doesn’t have these credentials. The big advantage to using Studio Pros’ musicians for your own songs is the experience and professionalism they bring–and the inspiration they draw from the top-level artists they’ve worked with.

To get the results the results you’re after you need to be specific with your instructions.  The special thing about Studio Pros is that you’re the boss of the production process–you get to give feedback every step of the way.  But, just like a craftsman must know how to properly use his tools in order to build something, you should know how to use the great tools we provide–that is, excellent musicians.

How to give great instructions for session musicians

1. Never leave wiggle room. For example, don’t say “I think the tempo should be somewhere between 100 and 120 BPM… Or maybe a little slower.” Give very specific instructions: “The tempo is 113 BPM.” If you’re not sure what the tempo should be, a quick phone call to one of our producers will give you a solid answer.  Leaving details open-ended could result in a result you hadn’t planned on.
2. Always be specific. Mention parts in minutes and seconds instead of bars, beats, etc. Say, “When the chorus comes in at 2:03, the drummer should switch to ride cymbal.”
3. Describe in detail the playing you want to hear. Give examples and reference songs to help the processes. We once had someone tell us, “I want the guitars to sound like rain.” Since that’s a very subjective description that can be interpreted in various ways, we could only guess as to whether or not we were recording what they wanted!
4. Lay out every one of your expectations. If you’re expecting to get something done the way you want, say it.  Even though you’re dealing with great musicians, they can’t read minds. If you don’t specify what you want, you probably aren’t going to get it!

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Recording Bass: Laying Down a Groove

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I always love it when I’m listening to a song and I suddenly notice when a tasty bass groove kicks in. Even though bass guitar tends to be a background instrument, every once in a while a bassist will bust into a part so awesome you have to take notice and say, “Who is that bass player??” I’d guess that a lot of people might not even realize how important the bass is–until, that is, you take it away!

A good bass line is essential to a great song, and a good bass performance is key to a great recording. When it comes time to lay down some funky grooves, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Amplified or direct?

There are some wonderful sounding bass amps out there that can help you get the exact sound you are looking for. But one of the advantages of bass is that you don’t have to play through an amp at all! Bass guitar is one of the few instruments that you can get a good sound from while plugging straight into a direct box and into your recording console. This can be very convenient, especially if you’re recording at home and your downstairs neighbors wouldn’t appreciate their kitchenware rattling with each thumping eighth note.

But sometimes you just need that certain sound that only a bass amp can provide. In this case, you’ll need to record the classic way: an amplifier and a microphone (or more than one mic). Which amp and mic you use is entirely up to you–there are many options that make for many sounds, so it all comes down to what sounds best to your ear.  For some more specific miking techniques, take a look at my post on recording great-sounding guitar.

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What’s the Best Way to Produce Your Songs?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

What’s the best  way to produce your songs?  In order to answer that question, you’ll need to answer another first: what are your musical goals?

What would you do with your song if it was already produced just like you wanted it to be? Would you try to get placements in movies? Would you want it played on popular TV shows? How about a commercial spot? Or would you rather pitch it to another artist? Maybe you’re just looking to record a single to send to all of your friends, or you want to have a song to post on the Internet and rack up some plays on Myspace and fans on Facebook. Defining the end goal will help you determine the best way to produce your song, because you’ll know more about the specific needs for the song’s final product.

Your song can be produced in many ways

There are multiple options on the table when it comes to producing your song. You could hire a band and rent a day in a commercial recording studio. You could send your tune to a “one man band” producer, a sort of jack of all trades that can arrange and perform most of the tracks himself. You could produce it with musicians via the Internet (just like Studio Pros). In the end, you’re the only one who can decide on the best way to record your song.

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Finding Musicians For Your Band

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

One of the great things about Studio Pros is that we hook you up with world-class Los Angeles session musicians to play on your songs. This can be a great resource, particularly for artists who don’t already know too many studio-ready musicians. But when it comes to playing live, you might decide that you want some fellow players to help fill out your sound–especially after you hear the lush new arrangements and full-production treatment that your songs received from us!  Although we can’t rent out our session players to play your live gig, we can at least give you a few pointers on finding some great musicians to join forces with.

Craigslist

Craigslist is a common place to find musicians, with many freelancers looking for gigs through the site. You can post a classified ad in the “Gigs” section or in the “Musicians” section (under “Community”). When doing this, be sure to specify exactly what you want–instruments played, the style of music, pay (if any), show length, duration (if you’re looking for a long-term commitment or just someone to play for a show or two), etc. It’s a good idea to specify that the musician must have their own gear and reliable transportation (and that they should show up on time). Also, provide a link to music samples so any prospective players know specifically what kind of music they’ll be playing. In return, ask anyone interested to send you samples of their playing.

Music Stores

This may be considered the “old fashioned” method at this point, but it’s still worthwhile to print out physical flyers and post them on bulletins boards in local music stores and schools. One of the best ways to find musicians is to go where they congregate!  Anywhere that sells music gear or teaches music lessons is a good choice. Include all of the information mentioned above for the Craigslist ad, and make sure your contact info is clear.

Musician Classifieds Websites

There are websites other than Craigslist that offer services to hook fellow musicians up with each other.  Sites such as Bandmix.com offer alternatives that focus specifically on musicians, without any of the extra clutter that comes with Craigslist.

Word of Mouth

Sometimes all it takes to find someone is asking around! If you’re a musician, chances are you have several musician friends. Ask them, and ask other friends and family members if they know anyone who might want to play in your band. You might be surprised with the number of people you find!

A Note on Safety

Any time you’re dealing with communicating with people you’ve never met, you should always be cautious for your own safety. Never reveal any personal information in posts on the Internet. Always meet new people for the first time in a public place away from your home. And it’s always good to have other people that you trust around as well. Inviting a guitarist to meet you and your drummer at a rehearsal space is fine… Asking a prospective bass player to meet you alone at your house is not. Always use common sense!

There are thousands of musicians out there just dying to play with a great band.  The key is getting out there and finding where they are!

Still in the recording stages of your musical project?  Have Studio Pros’ top-notch professional studio musicians take your songs to the next level!

Featured Artist: Allenton Hill

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tim and Christopher Allen decided to use Studio Pros to breathe a little life into their recordings.  In the end, they ended up getting a bit more than that.

Along with Brad Ackerman (drums) and Kristin Allen (vocalist), Tim and Chris Allen form the band Allenton Hill, who cite influences as diverse as Owl City (on the song “Fireworks,” listen below) and Switchfoot.  ”Truthfully, most of our music has been influenced by three main bands: Hillsong, Phil Wickham, and Coldplay,” says Tim, who plays lead guitar, does some singing, and is the principal songwriter of the group.  He’s been playing music with his brother Chris, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and piano, since they were kids.  ”When we were young, we were always around music,” Tim remembers.  ”Most everyone in my family plays an instrument or two… Eventually the music fever hit Chris and me.”

“Dad always turned up the music when we were driving around and he’d have me pick out all of the instruments,” says Chris.  ”This led to me having significant appreciation for the details in music.”

The members of Allenton Hill, all in their early twenties, got together when they began to play at a local Youth Center in their hometown of Dayton, OH in 2006.  They met Ackerman, who has now been playing drums for about 16 years, when he ended up living at their house for a short time.  Although he currently lives in Nashville, Ackerman drives up to Ohio every week to be with the band.

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